The Price of Traffic

Stephen Yagielowicz
I renewed a few domain names the other day, using Network Solutions’ online account manager; a simple process that I repeat pretty much monthly, but a process that is now accompanied by an increasing number of upsell ads, with multiple screens that offer everything from enhanced domain registration services to hosting, search engine optimization, placement and traffic deals.

It was one of those traffic deals that caught my attention: “Add PerformanceClicks™ $250.00 /month for 100 clicks (+$99.00 set-up fee)” – an offer which I took a second look at. The deal was for “advertising on search engines such as the Yahoo!® network” and promised individualized assistance: “We’ll create and manage your online ad campaign and guarantee a set number of clicks per month to your website. You pay only when someone clicks on your ad.”

Well there you go: managed pay-per-click services feeding you targeted Yahoo! traffic – at $2.50 per click and up.

Whether or not this service is suitable or available for adult applications wasn’t what got my attention; indeed, this service may only be worthwhile for certain targeted industries: “PerformanceClicks™ may benefit your site greatly if you have one of the following types of sites: mortgage broker or company, lawyers and doctors, real estate or rentals business, debt consolidation, business to business or e-commerce site with high-ticket items.”

What caught my eye was the $2.50 per-click price point – a price that at first blush seemed to be rather excessive to a webmaster that’s sold an awful lot of traffic at two cents per-click. But that was a few years ago, and it wasn’t high-quality search engine traffic that I was selling. But still, $2.50 per-click?

Can you afford to pay $2.50 per-click to acquire quality traffic for your paysite and if so, at what conversion level does it become unprofitable for you to do so? If not, then how much can you afford to pay per-click and over what range of conversion ratios?

I think that this is a great topic for a useful conversation and so I’ve started a thread here so you can share your prospect acquisition numbers and we can develop a consensus range of traffic cost vs. quality, circa 2007.

Who wants to be first to do a little math?